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The Start
June 30, 1965
The NFL awards a franchise to 41-year-old Rankin M. Smith, Executive Vice President of Life Insurance Company of Georgia, for $8.5 million. At the time there were 14 NFL franchises in existence, 8 AFL clubs. Officially, Atlanta became the 23rd professional football club in existence, the 15th in the NFL prior to the merger of the Leagues.
Officially Titled
Aug. 20, 1965
"Five Smiths, Inc."  is registered as the corporate name for the Atlanta franchise. It is so named for Rankin Smith's five children: Rankin, Jr., Carroll Christine, Dorothy Ann, Taylor, and Nancy Karen.
Aug. 24, 1965
The listed stockholders of the franchise included Lindsey Hopkins, Jr., Howard Dobbs, Jr., Cody Laird, Jr., I. M. Sheffield III, Dorothy Laird Williams, W. Barrett Howell, and M. E. Kilpatrick.
The Nickname
Aug. 29, 1965
"Falcons" was suggested by many, with reasons from a school teacher from Griffin, Georgia singled out. Miss Julia Elliott said: "the Falcon is proud and dignified, with great courage and fight. It never drops its prey. It is deadly and has a great sporting tradition." A logo was designed by Wayland Moore Studios.
You Need Players
Sept. 9, 1965
Halfback Bob Paremore and split end Gary Barnes, who had been in the NFL with the Cardinals and Bears, were the first two players to sign with the Falcons.
The First Draft
Nov. 27, 1965
With the first pick in the entire draft, the Falcons chose Outland Trophy winning Linebacker Tommy Nobis from the University of Texas. After being drafted also by Houston of the AFL, he chose the Falcons on Dec. 14 and signed a contract. As the Falcons got two choices in each of the first five rounds, QB Randy Johnson of Texas A&I was the other first round pick by Atlanta. All told, the Falcons gained 25 players in the 20 round draft, the last one being defensive back Bob Riggle from Penn State. Nobis is the club's Vice President/ Corporate Development, while Riggle served 21 years as a team scout.
The Head Coach
Jan. 26, 1966
Norb Hecker, 39, left the Green Bay staff of Vince Lombardi to accept the job as the Falcons first head coach. He was with Lombardi seven years as they won three world titles and four conference titles. Gene Cronin, the Director of Player Personnel, deserves the distinction of being the first member of the Falcon organization named by Mr. Smith.
Supplemental Draft
Feb. 16, 1966
Allotted three picks from each of the 14 other NFL teams, the Falcons added 42 more players. Each team, who had a 40-man roster, placed 11 available for the Falcons to select from. Among those picks was their first leading rusher (Junior Coffey from Green Bay), their first leading receiver (Alex Hawkins from Baltimore), and a defensive captain (Bill Jobko from Minnesota).
Head for the Mountains
March 26, 1966
A YMCA Camp, Blue Ridge Assembly on Black Mountain, N.C. (near Asheville) is selected as the first summer training camp home.
The Merger Occurs
June 8, 1966
The AFL and NFL agree to merge with a Championship Game to be played. The teams would not actually begin playing regular season games until 1970. Atlanta was assigned to the NFL's Western Conference, Coastal Division, with the Los Angeles Rams, Baltimore Colts, and San Francisco 49ers.
The First Practice
July 2, 1966
Training Camp opened with some 130 players checking in for physicals and their chance to be an NFL player. One of the camp's visitors was Rev. Billy Graham, who lived just a few miles from the Blue Ridge Assembly. All told, 66 rookies reported with the vets checking in on July 9.
The First Game
Aug. 1, 1966 (Preseason)
Before 26,072 at Atlanta Stadium, Philadelphia claims a 9-7 win over the Falcons. Trivia fans might want to note that QB Dennis Claridge passed one yard to Tom Wilson for the Falcons first ever touchdown (second quarter) to provide a 7-6 halftime lead.
This Game Is For Real
Sept. 11, 1966
The Los Angeles Rams handed the Falcons a 19-14 loss before 54,418 at Atlanta Stadium. The Rams of George Allen were led by QB Roman Gabriel (294 yards). Facing a 16-0 deficit, Atlanta rallied to make it 16-14 before a third quarter Ram FG ended the scoring. Pre-game ceremonies included Commissioner Pete Rozelle, Governor Carl Sanders, and Mayor Ivan Allen. Falcon RB Ernie Wheelwright ran for 91 yards and caught a pass for 25 more to lead the offense.
The First Points
Sept. 11, 1966
It was the second quarter when QB Randy Johnson hit Gary Barnes for a 53-yard touchdown to officially score the first points for the Atlanta Falcons.
The First Official Win
Nov. 30, 1966
After nine straight losses, the Falcons claimed one for the W column at Yankee Stadium (62,746), 27-16. Former Giant Ernie Wheelwright scored two TD's receiving and ran for 51 more yards as QB Randy Johnson hit for a trio of TD's.
Tying an NFL Record With 1st HOME Win
Dec. 11, 1966
The Falcons tied an NFL record for an expansion team (Minnesota) by winning a third game. This victim was the St. Louis Cardinals, 16-10, before 57,169. The second win had been at Minnesota with Bobby Riggle returning an interception 62 yards for a touchdown.
Atlanta's First All-Pro
Dec. 15, 1967
Linebacker Tommy Nobis was named to the AP all-pro team, a Falcon first. This honor followed his Rookie of the Year performance in 1966 (Bert Bell Award and Pro Football Writers Association).
A New Regime
Oct. 1, 1968
Norm Van Brocklin, formerly head coach of Vikings, is named to replace Norb Hecker after three games of season. Two weeks later, his Falcons beat New York, 24-21, in first meeting between Van Brocklin and his former QB, Fran Tarkenton.
Starting On the Right Foot
Sept. 21, 1969
Falcons win first season opener ever, beating 49ers, 24-12, before home fans. Rookie Tight End Jim Mitchell scored two TD's and club set team record with 229 yards rushing.
The Triple Play
Dec. 7, 1969
Harmon Wages had a game to remember in this 45-17 rout of the Saints. The second year back threw for a TD in the first quarter (16 yards to Flatley), then caught a pass for a TD in the second quarter (88 yards), and then ran for a TD in the fourth quarter (66 yards).
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